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May 6, 2013 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Model Behaviour

Cuba St, the iconic main artery for hipsters and café-goers alike, requires some construction upgrades to earthquake-proof the area, according to Victoria University students.

A ten-metre-long model designed and built by Architecture students was on display at the Wellington Rocks! earthquake safety expo in late April. The model represented what the red-bricked street could resemble in the year 2035.

Developments over the next 20 years would include the typical courtyards and side streets that characterise Cuba St. The stability of 40 or so buildings would be vastly improved, however. Under the students’ model, the space remains a heritage area, with the old-style building façades kept. The addition of unsightly, mostly student-based apartment buildings will be avoided.

Unfortunately for some of the classic spots, Director of the Architecture programme at Victoria University Mark Southcombe is not optimistic.

“You wouldn’t be able to maintain many of the [smaller] tenants who make Cuba St what it is,” he said.

This may endanger popular smaller retailers such as Pegasus Books and Hunters and Collectors.

The main idea behind the model was to prove that it is possible for these developments to take place while still retaining the character of the popular street, Southcombe explained.

“It’s absolutely feasible… collaboration is the key; the public, council and building owners have to work together.”

Cuba St has been a Wellington institution since 1840, when it was named after settler ship the Cuba.


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